‘Cancer, Balance & Wellbeing’ Retreats

Lifestyle practices to support health and healing

24 – 28 February & 27- 31 October, Yarra Valley Living Centre


Dear Friends,

In 2023, we are facilitating two 5 day Cancer Retreats at the beautiful Yarra Valley Living Centre.

Facilitated by a strong and dedicated team, the cancer retreat programme is based on the Integrative Medicine model, honoring the principles and teachings of The Gawler Cancer Foundation with additional contemporary researched material and teachings from a variety of worldwide sources.

Some of you may be familiar already with this beautiful place – and to many of you, it is a delight yet to be explored. Built within 40 acres of stunning Australian bushland, the property features a wonderful array of birdlife and wildlife, the Little Yarra river, private gardens, a labyrinth and peaceful meditation settings, fruit trees and herb gardens.                                                                                         

Visitors and participants often comment that as one drives in the gate (watched by curious kangaroos) “a sense of peace gently comes over you…” 

This is a unique and special place – the retreat buildings featuring a spacious and peaceful meditation sanctuary, comfortable attractive well-appointed accommodation wings, a large dining room, private lounge and a welcoming  main teaching room – all well seasoned over many years by visitors from all over Australia and NZ (and further) who have come to learn, to meditate, to discover and experience new ways of being, new ways of health.    

A cancer diagnosis is a life changing event in anyone’s life. And the unique experience of learning, sharing, discussions and living on retreat with others also with a cancer diagnosis offers a depth of learning, enjoyment and integration that is simply not available elsewhere. 

If you or someone you love has a cancer diagnosis, this retreat offers the opportunity to step away from the demands of everyday life, to learn the established well  researched health practices that support your health and assist you as you undertake your medical treatment – a sense of deepening commitment to self and wellbeing.

The retreat provides:

  • Delicious fresh whole food plant-based meals and fresh vegetable juices
  • Comfortable attractive accommodation designed for privacy and peace                            
  • Experienced attentive staff well familiar in supporting people with chronic  illness
  • A full and interesting program (with a daily rest period after lunch)
  • A selection of optional Body Therapies (not included in fee)     

The programme:

7 Key Factors: The daily teachings cover fully each of the 7 Essential elements that are considered helpful for a healthy anti-cancer lifestyle, with relevant evidence-based research.
Meditation: 2 full teaching sessions on the theory, research, benefits and practice of meditation – exploring the relationship between stress and illness, and balance and wellness. And each day we meditate together in the Sanctuary, deepening the experiential practice and understanding, ideal for both experienced and new meditators
Whole food Plant based Nutrition: 3 sessions where we explore the relationship between health and nutrition, as we deepen down your knowledge, understanding and motivation for living fresh each day with a plant based style of eating.
The power (and science) of mind – using the mind to build strength, resilience and clarity of direction. We explore the science of Psychoneuroimmunology and Neuroplasticity, gaining insight into our own habitual patterns and creating new pathways.
Healthy emotions and healing: Understanding our emotions and our individual emotional style and how our emotional responses can affect our health and support our recovery.
Support & Communication: Gaining effective support from our chosen tribe for this health journey by communicating clearly and establishing boundaries.
Exercise and Movement: Exploring the researched benefits to wellbeing of daily enjoyable movement.
Spirituality and life meaning – living with daily purpose and intention. We explore what gives meaning to our individual lives, and the importance of connectedness to self, others, environment within our lives.


‘Restful Sleep’ workshop – practices for a deeper restful sleep every night, our immune function supported by deep sleep.
Qi gong – a daily practice in the meadow of gentle symmetrical traditional Qi gong movements for health and wellbeing.
Recovery stories: When diagnosed with cancer, hearing real stories of real people making real recoveries inspires our belief and builds our faith in what is possible – and helps hold us to our intentions to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Music – music is a significant and divine blessing within this retreat, and you are in the company of gifted musicians. Stay tuned… 😊

Retreat fees:

$1595.00   Retreat & shared accommodation – multi-share rooms, shared bathroom
$1995.00   Retreat with shared twin/double room and ensuite
$2995.00   Retreat with private room, King single bed and ensuite
(Support people attending pay 75% of the full fee)
Please note:  Accommodation is booked on a ‘first in, first served’ basis.

Enquiries: cancerbalanceandwellbeing@gmail.com

Retreat Team:

Liz Stilwell, Retreat Facilitator
Liz trained with The Gawler Cancer Foundation in 2004, and led Lifestyle change programmes for cancer, taught Mindfulness meditation courses, and counselled many people with cancer. Her counselling sessions specialise in processes for trauma recovery, anxiety, depression and insomnia. At TGCF,  Liz facilitated monthly Cancer Retreats and MS retreats. For 5 years, Liz assisted Drs Ian & Ruth Gawler in leading Mindfulness Meditation Retreats in the Coromandel Peninsula, NZ. As a Spiritual Carer, Liz works in Palliative care, with a compassionate holistic approach to navigating through chronic illness and end of life. She advocates strongly for a life created and directed by the heart, holding a deep lifelong interest in spirituality.

Diploma Occupational Therapy                                                                                                                                                                    Radical Remission Coach                                                                                                                                                                              Reg. Meditation Teacher
Clinical Hypnotherapist
Master Practitioner N.L.P
Spiritual Carer in Palliative Care

Sandy Clinton, Retreat Co-ordinator & Administration
Sandy joined The Gawler Cancer Foundation in 2006 and has developed and deepened her interest and appreciation for the mind-body connection since then. She assisted hundreds of people in the Client Services role which gave her a unique insight into the challenges people face when diagnosed with a chronic illness and wanting to improve and maintain their wellbeing. As an Ageless Grace ® Educator, Sandy rejoices in delivering this brain health fitness program.Sandy takes true joy in supporting the journey of discovery participants experience during a retreat.

Diploma of Social Work
Certified Ageless Grace ® Educator
Graduate of Neuroscience Academy

Anja Tanhane, Meditation Teacher & Facilitator
Anja is a qualified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher, senior Zen student, and Tai Chi instructor. She is a registered music therapist, and her qualifications include a Masters of Music Therapy, as well as post-graduate training in Guided Imagery and Music, family therapy, and the Professional Training in Buddhism and Psychotherapy (AABCAP). A meditation and Tai Chi practitioner for over thirty years, she regularly teaches mindfulness courses, workshops, and nature mindfulness retreats. She has provided workplace training in mindfulness to a wide range of community health organisations, hospitals and the corporate sector, and regularly works with carer groups to support their self-care. 

Registered Music Therapist, RGIMT
Master Music (Therapy)
MBSR Teacher
Tai Chi Instructor

Michael Johnson, Harpist and Composer
A concert performer and composer, Michael tranquil harp music has been a significant part of the retreats at the Gawler Foundation for over thirty years. He is also Music & Mindfulness coordinator at Delmont psychiatric Hospital and Road Trauma Support services Victoria. He leads seminars, workshops and Inservice sessions for businesses for staff professional development.
Michael has been the resident composer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne for over twenty years, organising the Harp in the Gardens concert program. The Botanic Gardens have also embraced Michael’s therapeutic skills and host Michael’s Harp Meditations .

Our experienced retreat team is enthusiastic and deeply committed to providing you with a memorable, rewarding, heartfelt and transformative retreat experience in your health journey.
Together with the staff of Brahma Kumaris in the Yarra Valley Living Centre, we welcome you with open hearts, delicious food, comfortable accommodation, and world class teachings.